"inside diameter of a gun barrel," 1580s, from French calibre (by mid-16c., perhaps late 15c.), often said to be ultimately from Arabic qalib "a mold for casting." Barnhart remarks that Spanish calibre, Italian calibro "appear too late to act as intermediate forms" between the Arabic word and the French.
But English Words of Arabic Ancestry finds that the idea of an Arabic source "comes with no evidence and no background historical context to support it. It is far more likely that the word was formed in French" from Medieval Latin qua libra "of what weight" (a theory first published 19c. by Mahn), from fem. ablative of quis (from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns) + ablative of libra "balance" (see Libra).
In U.S., expressed in decimal parts of an inch (.44-caliber = ".44-inch caliber"). The earliest sense in English is a figurative one, "degree of merit or importance" (1560s), from French. Later, figuratively, "the capacity of one's mind, one's intellectual endowments."
"short-barreled, large-caliber pistol," very effective at close range, 1850, for Henry Deringer (1786-1868), U.S. gunsmith who invented it in the 1840s. The prevailing misspelled form is how his name appeared on the many counterfeits and imitations.
Old English bor "instrument for making holes by boring or turning," from the source of bore (v.1). As "hole made by boring," early 14c. Meaning "cylindrical hole through a tube, gun, etc." is from 1570s; that of "interior diameter of a tube, caliber of a gun" (whether bored or not) is from 1580s. Hence figurative slang full bore (1936) "at maximum speed," from notion of unchoked carburetor on an engine.
Old English hefig "heavy, having much weight; important, grave; oppressive; slow, dull," from Proto-Germanic *hafiga "containing something; having weight" (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German hebig, Old Norse hofugr, Middle Dutch hevich, Dutch hevig), from PIE root *kap- "to grasp." Jazz slang sense of "profound, serious" is from 1937 but would have been comprehensible to an Anglo-Saxon. Heavy industry recorded from 1932. Heavy metal attested by 1839 in chemistry; in nautical jargon from at least 1744 in sense "large-caliber guns on a ship."
While we undervalue the nicely-balanced weight of broadsides which have lately been brought forward with all the grave precision of Cocker, we are well aware of the decided advantages of heavy metal. [United Services Journal, London, 1830]
As a type of rock music, from 1972. Most other Germanic languages use as their primary word for this their equivalent of Middle English swere, Old English swær "heavy, sad; oppressive, grievous; sluggish, inactive, weak" (but never in a physical sense; see serious); for example, Dutch zwaar, Old High German suari, German schwer. The English word died out in the Middle Ages.
seventh day of the week, Old English sæterdæg, sæternesdæg, literally "day of the planet Saturn," from Sæternes (genitive of Sætern; see Saturn) + Old English dæg (see day). Partial loan-translation of Latin Saturni dies "Saturn's day" (compare Dutch Zaterdag, Old Frisian Saterdi, Middle Low German Satersdach; Irish dia Sathuirn, Welsh dydd Sadwrn). The Latin word itself is a loan-translation of Greek kronou hēmera, literally "the day of Cronus."
Unlike other English day names, no god substitution seems to have been attempted, perhaps because the northern European pantheon lacks a clear corresponding figure to Roman Saturn. A homely ancient Nordic custom, however, seems to be preserved in Old Norse laugardagr, Danish lørdag, Swedish lördag "Saturday," literally "bath day" (Old Norse laug "bath").
German Samstag (Old High German sambaztag) appears to be from a Greek *sambaton, a nasalized colloquial form of sabbaton "sabbath," also attested in Old Church Slavonic sabota, Polish sobota, Russian subbota, Hungarian szombat, French samedi.
Saturday night has been used figuratively to suggest "drunkenness and looseness in relations between the young men and young women" at least since mid-19c. Saturday-night special "cheap, low-caliber handgun" is American English, attested from 1976 (earlier Saturday-night pistol, 1929).